Business Brand + Personal Brand + Website Brand = Synergy That Propels Your Success!
How to Develop Your Branding Strategy
When companies begin working with a branding firm to confront the challenge of developing a brand strategy, it becomes immediately apparent that as many opinions about the purpose and goals of such a strategy exist as do the entities that implement them. Boiling all the opinions and nuances down, however, leaves us with the primary question that must be answered: what should your brand strategy accomplish? The answer: It should define the essence of your company: its personality, benefit, and marketing approach.
To accomplish this goal, you’ll first need to evaluate current customer perceptions of your brand. Your branding firm can survey current customers and employees to pinpoint the message you currently communicate. Whether you’ve made a conscious effort to promote an image or not, your target audience will have created a distinct perception of you in their minds. Most likely, if you haven’t worked to develop this perception yourself, you’ll need to put some effort into shifting that image.
Next, evaluate the features and benefits you offer to customers. Understand the differences between these two concepts: a feature is a characteristic of your product or service while a benefit describes how the customer profits from that product or service.
With your features and benefits listed concretely, your http://www.smartimagemedia.com branding firm can help you distill them down to one single idea you want to convey. This idea becomes your unique value proposition. It encapsulates the one idea that makes you stand out from the competition and gives your audience a reason to choose you over others.
In general, your UVP will be most successful if it offers an emotional appeal. Emotions hold great sway over customer decisions, even in business to business transactions, so while it’s still important to provide logistical evidence for persuasion, don’t neglect the emotional appeal.
Finally, your brand needs its own personality. This may be largely determined by the demographics of your target audience. Ultimately, however, the personality of your brand will be what holds the branding strategy together. It enables you to train your employees, design your website, develop marketing messages, and codify your customer service approach, all based on what customers expect to see when they interact with you.
An experienced branding firm can walk you through each of these steps in order to develop a branding strategy that defines your company and drives sales. With your branding strategy in place, you can begin discussing the best ways to communicate that strategy to your customers, build a loyal following, and ultimately own your marketing niche.
Resource Box: Are you looking for a http://www.smartimagemedia.com branding firm that can help you define your brand strategy? Smart Image Media works to create a business identity that will keep your customers talking about you.
How and Why CEOs Should Consider Personal Branding
Over the past few decades, America has seen the rise and fall of scores of high-profile CEOs. Names like Martha Stewart, Donald Trump, and Tony Hayward bring an instant image to the mind of the reader, linking their reputation to the companies they represent. Because the reputation of a company becomes intertwined with the personal reputation of the CEO, it’s vital that CEOs build a personal brand image that is separate from their company brand.
The challenge for many CEOs is understanding that if they fail to create a personal brand, their customers will create one for them. Without carefully crafted personal branding, the CEO will be equated with the company, meaning that failure for one leads to failure for the other. CEOs with strong personal brands can recover and move on even if the company fails; conversely, if the CEO makes a bad decision (think Martha Stewart) the company can remain intact.
The first step in creating a successful personal brand is choosing the image you will portray. The knowledge of a good brand firm can provide critical advice during this part of the creative process. It’s usually wise to project the same values in your personal brand that the company you work for expresses. However, it’s also important to showcase your individuality since your personal brand will remain with you no matter what company you work for.
Once you know what image you want to project, an experienced branding firm can help you learn how to accomplish that goal. This phase of the process involves finding and correcting any areas that don’t support your brand image as well as engaging in meaningful interaction on venues such as Facebook, Twitter and email.
Lastly, as a CEO it’s important to market yourself in order for your personal brand image to take hold in the consumer’s mind. Personal blogs, social media outlets, and email all provide excellent opportunities to build your brand. If you’re not an expert in marketing, your branding firm can offer their knowledge of marketing techniques and strategies to ensure that you present a unified, positive image.
Studies show that people who trust a company’s CEO generally exhibit high levels of trust in the company as well, even if they don’t know much about it. By creating a strong personal brand as a CEO, you give your customers a person they can relate to, while at the same time positioning yourself for success throughout your career, wherever your professional goals may take you.
Emotional Appeal Through Company Branding
The goal of brand building is to create a connection with your target audience by establishing a recognizable company identity. In order to accomplish this goal, companies depend on emotional associations to help viewers engage positively with the brand wherever they encounter it. Successful brands are the ones that know which elements will engage with the emotions of their target audience, vaulting them ahead of their competitors even in the face of similar or better prices and products.
Many companies focus on appealing to their customers’ logic, but the truth is that most buyers ultimately rely on emotion to make a decision. After all the research has been done, it’s the company that the customer feels an emotional connection with that wins the day. Effective branding seeks to accommodate the role of emotion in buying by building appealing to the emotional pulls of their target audience throughout the branding process.
Trying to make a buying decision based on reason alone can paralyze the shopper, since logic alone cannot reach a conclusion regarding several similar products. But with an emotional appeal, the decision is easily made. The power of emotion can even cause buyers to remain loyal to a brand in spite of its inferior quality. Emotional appeal has never been highlighted more effectively than when Coca-Cola consumers decidedly rejected the new, better-tasting Coke II in favor of the beloved classic recipe. Despite the benefits of a better product, their emotional connection to the previously established brand ultimately decided the issue.
Because the final decision in the buying process usually relies at least partially on an emotional connection, your primary goal during the branding process should be to determine how to connect emotionally with your target audience. Accomplishing this goal effectively will give your company a head start compared with competitors who haven’t.
There are several ways to connect emotionally with your target audience. Because emotions stem from reactions and not reason, you’ll need to focus on the design and appearance of your brand, promoting values over objectivity. Factors to consider include colors, emotional wording, graphics, and shapes, all of which can have an emotional affect on the buyer.
The human element of your brand will be the best way to resonate with audiences. It’s the human element that creates emotional attachments, prompting buyers to choose you and not your competitors. Although need can be established through a logical appeal, it is the emotional appeal that will convince your audience that you are the best company to meet that need.
Emotional Appeal Through Company Branding
Are you reaching the right people with your marketing messages? You may have the best product or service available, but if the people who need it don’t see it, you’ll never make a sale. In order to attract clients that will keep on buying, you need to understand how to identify your ideal clients and how to craft your brand to attract them.
What is the Ideal Client?
The ideal client is not necessarily the same as your target audience. You can accomplish the necessary goal of identifying your target audience by doing keyword and demographics research, but you’ll have to go a little further than that to identify the portion of your target audience that can be considered ideal clients. Three characteristics transform an average customer into an ideal client:
? He wants what you have.
? He is willing to spend for your products.
? He will remain loyal.
These ideal customers make up about 20% of your overall customer base, but they will often generate more than half of your revenue, provided you can attract them in the first place.
How Can Businesses Attract Ideal Clients?
Businesses that want to succeed in attracting their ideal target customers must build a strong brand that clearly speaks both to their customers’ logic and emotions.
? Be the Best in Your Field
Your brand should revolve around what you’re best at and should communicate that strongly in marketing messages. Don’t just claim to be the best: make sure you actually are. This means choosing a uniquely specific area, not just “We put customers first.”
? Create Expectation
Marketing messages should always create an expectation in the mind of the potential client. That expectation will reflect your unique value proposition and will tell the client what he or she will receive from your company.
? Differentiate from Competitors
To earn the loyalty of your ideal clients, you must show them how you are different and better than your competitors. If you convince them that you really do offer the widest variety or the fastest shipping, you’ll earn the right to be their favorite brand.
? Follow Through
None of the above points will mean anything if you fail to follow through on your promises. We’ve all been disappointed by companies that claimed to offer something we wanted but couldn’t deliver. Don’t be that kind of company. Keep your clients happy by giving them what they want and you’ll attract ideal clients that will spend money, remain loyal, and refer other ideal clients to your business.
Branding Equity with Multimedia Marketing
As marketing channels proliferate both offline and online, businesses looking to create brand equity must determine how best to present a strong, unified brand despite the variety in settings. Diverse marketing efforts mean that your brand must be stronger than ever in order to communicate effectively not only in different media venues but also to different kinds of people. Logos and business cards are a great starting point, but you’ll have to delve deeper in order to create a brand that’s both memorable and functional.
Create a Strategy
The go-to starting point for any workable plan, your strategy should receive your full attention before you begin your concrete marketing efforts. Decide which multimedia venues you want to invest in and make sure you have the personnel and the funds to develop each one fully. Some of the most effective multimedia marketing channels include printed materials, websites, email marketing, digital templates and files, and written copy like articles and press releases (both online and in print). Your strategy should incorporate timing (when will each marketing effort be made public), budget, and an evaluation process to determine effectiveness.
Know Your Market
As you create a strategy for your multimedia marketing efforts, it’s vital that you take time to know your target market. Find out where they tend to congregate online and what multimedia venues they already use. If your target market loves Facebook and Twitter, work to create an effective social media strategy. If they typically check email on a mobile phone, make sure you create a mobile version of your newsletter. On the other hand, if you market to an older generation that may not be comfortable with more modern media, you may need to focus your efforts on printed materials, a stellar website and simple email marketing.
Successful multimedia branding efforts always emphasize consistency. For instance, make sure the design of your website matches the design of your printed materials and incorporate the same color scheme in your email newsletters as you do in your printed ads. Presenting your company consistently across multiple marketing channels will help people recognize and remember you no matter where they come across your brand. Be consistent with copy as well. Use the same slogans, catch-phrases, and selling points in all your marketing efforts.
As you work toward building brand equity through multimedia marketing, remember that your number one goal should be to create a positive association with your brand in the consumer’s mind. That means creating positive interaction situations and following through with consistent branding efforts that will help those positive messages stick.
How to know when your Brand needs a makeover
If your business isn’t performing the way you’d like it to, you may be looking internally for ways to stimulate growth. One of the key areas to consider during this phase is your business branding. Your brand determines what impressions people will carry away when they interact with you online, in print, or in a store. But how do you know whether your brand is sending the right message? Look for these triggers that will tell you it’s time to rethink your brand position.
1. Fundamental Changes to Your Business
As your business changes, be open-minded about corresponding changes to aspects of your branding which worked in the past, but don’t anymore. Don’t remain loyal to any one feature of your branding strategy at the cost of reducing overall effectiveness.
2. Business Growth
Small businesses market themselves differently than large businesses do. If you’ve grown significantly, take the time to research your market in order to determine what new strategies should be incorporated into your branding efforts.
3. You Don’t Feel Comfortable with Your Brand
Maybe you rushed through the branding phase initially or maybe you settled for someone else’s ideas. Whatever the case, don’t settle for a brand that doesn’t communicate your vision for your company.
4. Your Target Market Doesn’t Relate Well to Your Brand
Let’s face it. You can’t market clothing to teens the way you would market to their parents. If you’re trying to sell to a market that views you as out of touch with their needs and desires, then it’s time to rethink your strategy.
5. Your Target Market Has Changed
Maybe your branding strategy initially catered well to your target market of 18 to 29 year-olds, but now you’ve altered your product line to target 13 to 17 year olds. If your target market has changed, your brand will need to change too, or you’ll fail to reach them.
6. Culture Has Changed
The Coca-Cola company excels in reaching their target market in places most brands will never reach. But their branding strategy today, no matter which continent you’re looking at, is not the same as it was in the 1950s. In order to effectively reach your target market, you’ve got to adapt your brand as the culture adapts so that you continue to offer relevant marketing messages.
7. You’ve Changed Your Unique Selling Proposition
Your unique selling proposition should set you apart from your competition in a meaningful way. If you’ve recently revamped this element of your marketing campaign, your branding should reflect those changes as well.
Branding creates an emotional connection to your target audience, but that connection is only as strong as your brand is relevant. If you see any of the above triggers in your marketing strategy, you need to spend some time rethinking your brand in order to continue reaching your target market effectively.
Tara Kellerhals of SmartImage Media and Sherry Eklund discussing our project management portal. Visit www.dvaerialphoto.com designed by Smart Image Media.
Three Questions to Define Your Business Brand in Today�s Market
Economically stressed times, technical changes and current affairs can rock your business world. Rockin’ your world can be a good thing as long as you use it to reposition yourself for business success. Weather it’s a service you provide or a product it should solve a problem. Simply look for the problems out there and become a solution then communicate it with passion and consistency.
Whenever you make a change in your business and/or target market. You’ll need to evaluate your current business brand. Is there a consistent thread across all of your marketing platforms, such as logo, tag line, ads, brochure, website, etc.? Then ask yourself three questions. Is it time to create a new brand, refresh an old brand or strengthen your current brand?
Why would you create a new brand? If you started out with a convenient brand to get a new business off the ground, maybe having a printer create the logo and a cousin develop your website from a template to save money as you started your business, it’s time to create a new brand. A good test for this is if you’re embarrassed on how your brand represents your business, find yourself apologizing for your brand or your potential customers aren’t clear on what you do.
Is it time to refresh an old brand? After being in business a couple of years your business has grown somewhat organically. You begin to get a clear direction on your unique selling proposition, have the right team in place, defined your target market and are ready for the next level of business. Now it’s time to go through your brand with a professional and determine if it represents and communicates your business to your target market.
What does it mean to strengthen your current brand? In time you develop your client list. It’s always good to evaluate your list and determine the clients you love to work with as well as ones that are not a perfect fit for your business. Look at your brand through your ideal clients’ eyes. What do they want to see, answers their questions and will bring value to them? Then ask your ideal clients directly what they like about your brand. Now you have direction on how to strengthen your brand.
It’s always good to reevaluate your business brand at least once a year and make sure it fits your business as well as possible. The clearer you define your business and set yourself apart from the competition the more success you’ll find.
Video of the importance of a Brand Promise
Joan Risdon, Founder and CEO of Smart Image Media shares a few simple steps to help you successfully market your business at the 2010 Kingdom Economic Yearly Summit in Denver, CO!(Video 3 of 5)at the 2010 Kingdom Economic Yearly Summit in Denver, CO.
Video of the importance of a strong Logo Design
Joan Risdon, Founder and Ceo of Smart Image Media shares a few simple steps to help you successfully market your business.at the 2010 Kingdom Economic Yearly Summit in Denver, CO!(Video 2 of 5)at the 2010 Kingdom Economic Yearly Summit in Denver, CO!
Video of the importance of Branding
Joan Risdon, Founder and CEO of Smart Image Media shares a few simple steps to help you successfully market your business at the 2010 Kingdom Economic Yearly Summit in Denver, CO! (Video 1 of 5)
To my beautiful marketing team�..
The brochure you have done is a gift to my offering. It is a blessing. You have translated my vision, my ideals, and my practical strategic marketing needs into a beautiful and effective brochure. My standards are high. I have never received something on a first draft and loved it; especially something this complex. I am very impressed with you and very thrilled that I have you on my team.
I LOVE the image of the hands and the butterfly. You knocked that out of the park!
The way you translated my original brand will make the original designer of my logo very proud. I can’t wait to show it to him when it’s done.
The photos you chose are really growing on me. At first I wasn’t sure about some of the images but they speak to the heart of what my clients experience, and in turn the relief that I provide.
The use of Ane Marie’s wonderful photos, I think, will make her very proud.
Last, yet, absolutely not least, the three images that represent my motto are off the charts, cool. I love them!!!!!!!
Girls, watch out! My business is going to take off and I hope you’ll be with me each step of the way. It’s going to be a fun journey.
And Jen, thank you. I see why Tara, Joan and Vanessa trust you. And you did this job in 3 days! I’m very impressed and appreciative.
Why brand your small business?
At SmartImage Media we love helping emerging entrepreneurs and small business’ grow quickly. The way we help is by bringing them through a unique branding process created just for them. It’s important that a small business brand represent the essence of the business owner, their unique selling proposition and the people that they’re passionate about helping. A small business brand needs to be effective, affordable and creative. It increases your visibility, credibility, sales and profitability … A brand is the drop in the pond that helps Broaden Your Impact.
Do your clients know …
Who you are?
What you do?
What you can do for them?
What sets you apart from your competition?
Most importantly …
How will they remember you?
Social psychologists have determined that 55% of first impressions are based on visual appearance. Like it or not, you are either attracting or repelling the majority of the population on visual representation alone.
FROM A DESIGNER�S PERSPECTIVE Creativity in Graphic Design Takes Time and Here�s How to find it
A quick daily list detailing the tasks to accomplish that day is a highly effective tool for managing time. Keeping a single note card has the added benefit of being able to toss that list into the recycling bin at the end of the day with a Sayonara, I got ‘er all done.
Setting Time for Repetitive Tasks
Nothing wastes more time than responding to every little email that pops up. Setting a chunk of time to go through email and closing out of email for a few hours has helped to keep me moving through my day more efficiently. (i.e. I set aside a chunk of time in the mornings when everything is quiet and there are less distractions. Reading through emails in the morning helps to prioritize my list of tasks for the day)
Setting Time for Inspiration
Deciding up front how much time is spent on researching/exploring for ideas on a project helps keep me focused. If left on my own without a timeline, I will forever keep chasing that one great idea. At some point, you have to stop researching and start creating.
Limiting Distractions / Interruptions
The average worker is interrupted over 70 times in a given day with calls, emails, questions, putting out fires, etc. And, according to studies, once interrupted, it takes 20 minutes to get back to the level of concentration you were prior to being interrupted.
Closing the door, putting the phone on Do Not Disturb, noise-reduction head phones, switching off email, Instant Messenger, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, and the list goes on and on and on. If you can list at least 3 ways to block needless distractions and put those into action, you will save precious minutes or even hours to put towards that ever -looming deadline.
Organizing the Clutter
Piles everywhere, how much time do I waste going through all my stacks looking for that one note I wrote on a piece of paper somewhere? Could be hours, it makes me cringe to think about it. Recently, instead of stacking it in a pile of things to get to later, files have now become my friend. Everything, whether it be a post it note, a random piece of paper, a project brief, etc goes into the appropriate file. Having this uncluttered work space, frees up my mind and the time I had spent shuffling through stacks is now spent creating.
Creating a Brand Image. Are People Talking About You? With a Strong Brand Image They Would Be.
When it’s boiled down to basics, a brand is simply your reputation.
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”
Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon.com
What are the elements of a strong brand reputation? At SmartImage Media we think they include the following:
Trust & Brand Promise
Let’s start with the name. Does it have to mean something? Kodak, McDonald’s, Cheerios, and Apple don’t have built-in meaning, but they’ve been painstakingly built through many years of advertising and exposure. It doesn’t have to mean something, but having a name that means something makes the job of creating a successful brand image much easier. Examples that come to mind are “Jiffy Lube”, “Close-Up” and “Puppy Chow.” Can you think of other examples?
What about the logo design? What image does it convey and is it consistent with the brand promise? Is it modern or traditional? Are the colors loud or muted? Is the design “clean” or “busy?” Is it associated with a symbol or does it stand on its own? Does it stand out from the competition? Does it make you look professional? Is it a custom designed brand logo, or does it look like it was designed by your brother-in-law? All of these factors must be considered in developing a strong logo.
With a strong brand, consumers TRUST your brand promise. The corollary is also true – when people TRUST your brand promise, you develop a strong brand.
For example when FedEx promises overnight delivery, how confident are you that it’ll arrive the next day? What about “Joe’s Courier Service?” What’s your trust level with them?
When you buy tainted pet food from China, what happens to their brand promise to produce healthy pets? What happens to a brand’s reputation when children’s’ toys are found to have lead contamination?
So one of the most critical functions of a strong brand is “Can it consistently deliver on its promise?” Just as in life, a broken promise can take years to mend.
Although your brand promise encompasses many things it starts with the tag line. This is what you’re promising your brand will do. For example, at SmartImage Media, we use BROADEN YOUR IMPACT because we’re confident we can deliver on that promise, time after time.
One of the best tag lines ever is Energizer’s “It keeps going and going and going……..” Brian Till and Donna Heckler say that powerful taglines should embody three characteristics. They should be meaningful, motivatingand memorable. Energizer certainly meets those criteria.
Small businesses face challenges that are particular to them, the most important usually being tighter cash flow, tougher budgets and lack of access to capital. Limited resources make it critical that your brand is differentiated from its competition. What makes it different? What makes it better? Why does it offer more value? Is it more convenient? Who does it target? Is it a niche product?
Limited budgets make it imperative that you have a well designed logo that is consistent with your brand promise. Limited budgets also mean that advertising communication cannot rely as much on traditional forms of advertising, but must concentrate more on the new media: websites that reflect your company image, your brand image and your brand promise, websites that include superior graphic design and are SEO optimized, as well as social media marketing such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc. that gets you in touch with potentially very large audiences. Vehicle wraps are another way to reach potentially large audiences for a fraction of the cost of traditional media. A caveat on vehicle wraps: many wrap designs are too busy. Effective vehicle wraps must communicate who you are, what you do and how you can be reached in 5 seconds or less, because in effect it’s a “moving billboard” and should get your message and brand image across quickly. So, even though times are tough right now, the good news is that these forms of communication are much more cost effective and can build greater trust and credibility, because you’re being talked about, you’re not doing all the talking.
Consistency is the final element in a strong brand image. The design and communication elements of your brand should carry through in everything from logo to packaging, from website design to auto wraps and from brochure design to traditional advertising. Consumers are bombarded with thousands of advertising messages and images each day. Don’t dilute your brand image by being inconsistent.
In some cases, businesses are quite well established before they decide that it’s time to look “grown-up”. It’s time for the “brand image to catch up with the business.”
In other cases, the brand image is well thought out and designed right from the start, making it much easier for the “business to catch up with the brand image.”
Either way, it’s really important to incorporate all the elements of a strong brand image summarized below:
A brand name that preferably means something
A logo design that fits well with your brand name, your target market and your brand promise
A tagline that’s meaningful, motivating and memorable
A consistent communication strategy that repeats the brand name, brand logo and brand promise across as many media as possible, including website, social media, vehicle wraps, packaging, advertising, signage, brochures and other printed collateral materials.
If you do all this well, you will undoubtedly “broaden your impact.”